Professional Development: Dance Education Laboratory Summer Institute

I just returned from two transformative weeks in New York City at the Dance Education Laboratory (DEL)

I took two workshops: DEL Essentials and DEL Early Childhood

Essentials was a three-day intensive with a broad spectrum of people, from professional dancers to college students to working dance educators from New York, across the country (like myself), and the globe (Spain, Taiwan, Korea, to name three). We learned the philosophy of DEL, centered on developing a movement sentence of action words, which either stands alone or emerges from thematic content. From that point of departure, one layers on exploration through the Laban movement vocabulary and then further develops the material through choreographic tools. It’s very open-ended and student-centered.

We looked at advocacy as well, because each of us needs an articulate and persuasive argument for why dance is so important in education. Advocacy promotes understanding and support, so vital to our existence and continuation.

Early Childhood was a five-day workshop. We went in depth, developing a lesson and unit progression, writing our own unit and lesson progressions and sharing them, and learning more about child development and behavior management.

I recommend these workshops. They pair nicely with the Laban concept-based approach of Anne Green Gilbert . If you are already familiar Anne’s lesson progression and brain-compatible work, you will find the DEL work to reveal another facet of dance pedagogy.

Plus, you get to meet great people doing meaningful work in exciting New York City. I loved my time there.

You can register for next summer’s classes after January. Tell ‘em Kate sent you!

 

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July 13, 2016. Tags: , , , . Curriculum Integration, Lesson Plan Organization, Professional Development, Recommended Resources, Teaching Skills. 2 comments.

Curriculum-Integration Techniques, and Ideas for K-2

As a Teaching Artist, I often had to generate dance ideas that connect with curriculum.

Here was my approach.

I would research the topic that the grade level was working on, and look for and jot down:

  • Descriptive words (nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives)
  • Sequence of events that create structure (such as science processes, words of a poem)

I might brainstorm and partially group-write a script or poem with the kids and clean it up later as needed.

 

Then, I’d seek to match my research with:

  • Action (in place)
  • Locomotion (traveling)
  • Shapes (individual, group) that stay
  • Shapes that move (e.g. water that sways, clams that open and shut)
  • Quality of Movement (including expression, emotion)

 

I’d look for:

  • Music selections
  • Words that would guide the action.

(Words and music could be the score, at the same time or alternately.)

Many of my own creations have come out of this process. 

 

Let’s look at some examples for working with younger students (grades K-2)

From AlphaBeat, a couple of science-integration ideas which you can find written up in the AlphaBeat Companion Guide

For 1st “Little Seed” and “Trees”

For mature 1st grade and 2nd “Snowflake Dance”  

Here are some ideas from other resources for 2nd graders

For a dance about the Water Cycle, see “Water Dance” by Thomas Locker as a terrific point of departure. You can excerpt material for spoken word.
For music, I recommend the storm section of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and Marimba Dances – 1 from Light in Darkness by Evelyn Glennie.

 

For Habitats (Ocean,  Desert, Rainforest):

I group-wrote, very often, an ocean dance with the students (use Aquarium from Carnival of the Animals as your soundtrack).

For desert,  you can glean from Diane Siebert’s book Mojave.

I wrote my own poem and music for a rainforest dance.  (It’s in the Oct/Nov 2010 Issue of Activate Magazine…see later part of this post)

 

Here’s a list of topics I’ve successfully explored with K-2 students:

Language Arts

  • Alphabet Order
  • Simile
  • Metaphor
  • Punctuation
  • Folk and Fairy Tales
  • Verbs and Adverbs (more a 2nd grade and up thing)

For poetry, I particularly love The Random House Book of Poetry for Children edited by Jack Prelutzky  as a resource

Math

  • Telling time
  • Add – Subtract – Multiply

 

Science

  • The Seasons
  • Insects: metamorphosis, life cycle
  • Weather: water and weather, clouds
  • States of Matter
  • Animals: Adaptations, ways they move

 

Social Studies

 

A couple of other integration pieces (and this is just a small sampling)

Interdisciplinary Learning through Dance – 101 MOVEntures

A book/CD/DVD. Curriculum-integration lessons are divided into K-2 and 3-5th lessons

 

Rhythm of Math: Teaching Mathematics with Body Music (A Kinesthetic Approach)

Keith Terry

A 3-5 focused-curriculum

This resource is very rhythm-centric but it’s a very cool blend with movement and VERY math strong.

 

Anne Green Gilbert and her Laban-based, concept-based approach is great for fundamentals
Including Brain-Compatible Dance Education
and Creative Dance for All Ages, 2nd edition (which came out last year, and includes some video and additional resources as downloads).

 

Some of my documented integration lessons are in issues of Activate! Magazine.

This is mainly for music teachers, but also includes some movement. You can back-order some issues of  Volume 5 that include science-integrated activities for K-2 and companion strategies that go with them.

No. 2: Oct/Nov 2010 – Crazy Locomotion Relays (a great strategy for generating lots of locomotor movement ideas) and Rainforest Dance (Done to an original poem and includes music)

No. 3: Dec/Jan 2010/11 – Animal Tracks

No. 5: April/May 2011 – Water and Weather: Exploring Science through Movement (includes music)

 

If you have ideas of your own, kid-tested  favorites, please share!

 

 

June 14, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , . Creative Dance Lesson Plans, Curriculum Integration, Favorite Books, Favorite Music, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Teaching Tips, Thoughts on Teaching Series, Working with Kate's Material. 2 comments.

Thoughts on Teaching #3: Bloom’s Taxonomy

In thinking about moving from simple to complex during the course of a single class or a semester AND in thinking about the importance of creative dance as a means of learning ANY content, I talked about Bloom’s Taxonomy with my college students.
We educators are often called upon to justify our methods, especially as teaching artists in schools, and this is one point of departure for supporting evidence.

We looked at the Cognitive Domains (categories): Remembering, Understanding, Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating and Creating.

We discussed how they match up with the lesson components as outlined in Anne Green Gilbert’s books: Warming Up, Introducing the Concept of the day at the board and in the center of the room, Exploring, Developing Skills, Creating and Reflecting.

It is worthwhile to perform this exercise for yourself, comparing Bloom’s to your own class structure.   You discover, happily, that one of the reasons children LOVE the class is because it satisfies so many learning dimensions.  Children who like to practice hard-wiring skills get  to do that during the warm up, developing skills and even creating.   Children who like to invent (and may also be writers, painters, actors, etc.) get to do that during exploring and creating.   Children who lack a rich vocabulary of spoken language and movement, get to build that during the introduction and throughout the class.  Also throughout the class, children learn to interact with others, discover ways of approaching and solving a problem, and become accustom to presenting in front of a group.

An inspiring presenter named Lisa Murphy, who calls herself the Ooey Gooey Lady, suggested that we teachers keep a file of supporting evidence to share when we are called upon to justify our work and our approach.  Add this to your file!

November 1, 2015. Tags: , , , . Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Thoughts on Teaching Series. Leave a comment.

Thoughts on Teaching #1: Making Developmentally Appropriate Choices for Student Activities

Every fall I teach a course called “Creative Dance for Children” that is both a lab program for children ages 4 and 5, 6 and 7 and 8-10 AND a mentoring program for college students who are learning the concept-based approach to teaching dance, based on the work of Anne Green Gilbert. These students attend the lab classes, gradually taking over lesson components as the semester progresses.

This is the first in a series of thoughts on teaching, based on my responses to the college students’ journal entries on different topics.

  • Don’t stick with any one activity for too long, yet examined the same concept through many different activities.
  • Watch how your students move; it may teach you something about where they are emotionally.
  • Give quick directions that did not confuse.
  • Make positive reinforcement authentic. Don’t say ‘good job’ in a rote way. Believe it!
  • Use ‘Say and Do’ as a means of teaching ALL content. Holistic, multi-model learning is hugely effective for retaining information and ‘owning ‘ it. When we are moving, we are learning.
  • Let students figure some things out for themselves. Co-construct the knowledge with them.
  • Provide opportunities to take risks by giving students movement challenges.
  • Give choices – copy me, invent your own, copy your partner, AND model variety.
  • Use the power of visual supports! (words, symbols, drawings, pictures, etc.) to reach ALL learners, including English Language Learners.
  • Don’t always teach from the same side of the room. Change ‘front’ to change up the brain, too, for older students.
  • Include ‘relating to one another’ in your teaching! Isolation makes dance training much harder! The sense of community we build in the classroom can even spill over into the hallways, lunchrooms and playground. Positive!
  • When you keep it moving, keep it structured, and use student demonstrators… kids stay focused and on task. The teacher has control because the students have self-control since they are interested in what is happening.

 

October 3, 2015. Tags: , . Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Thoughts on Teaching Series. Leave a comment.

Teaching Size and Pathway in the Kinesphere

Last summer I attended a workshop on Language of Dance  with Tina Curran. Also teaching was Frederick Curry, certified in Laban Movement Analysis (which you can Google and find out more about).

Each day of the workshop focused on a different umbrella topic, including body, space, shape and relationships, and effort/dynamics. These concept categories are familiar to me through the work of Anne Green Gilbert. But the view lens and perspective of both LOD and LMA gave me a fresh take on concept teaching.

I’m going to talk about space, and in particular the kinesphere, because – since returning from the workshop – I’ve been exploring this in all my teaching to great effect. Lately I’m teaching children ages 4-10, college-aged students and people over the age of 50. Everyone is responding very positively to the learning.

Why am I so excited? Because sensing ourselves in space is so important.

Here’s what I’d like to share.

The kinesphere is the space around us. I give the image of a ‘hamster ball’ – one of those transparent globes that allow your pet to run around the house without getting away from you. I prefer this image to ‘bubble’ because it’s not as fragile. You can touch the inner surfaces without breaking through.

Within the kinesphere, we can grow and shrink, changing size. ‘Extension’ is the word for stretching and reaching the limbs in all directions. ‘Flexion’ is the word for bending our limbs at the joints, shrinking towards the core. Therefore, ‘extension’ moves us towards ‘big’ and ‘flexion’ towards ‘small’.

As we explore extension and flexion within the kinesphere, staying in one place (standing, sitting in a chair, or sitting on the floor would be options), we create pathways. Reaching directly out from the navel or core, we make direct pathways. This is called moving centrally. Upper and lower limbs can move centrally in all directions, challenging balance. Central pathways are straight, direct and radiate from the core.

Peripheral pathways touch the inner surface of the kinesphere. Movers sweep limbs across the space, in curves, in all directions. Tossing over the top is peripheral movement. Keep the image of touching the kinesphere to encourage big reach, and remind movers of the space behind and below, too.

Transverse pathways cross the midline, passing from one side of the kinesphere to the other, in front and behind the body while remaining in one place. Smaller, intricate movements may appear in this exploration. The pathways can take direct or indirect routes as they cross the midline. Encourage movers to explore all limbs, both upper and lower.

After exploring size and pathway in the kinesphere, take a walk or transition into a warm up and see how your sense of space is affected. How does this change your spatial awareness? Do you move with more volume? Are you aware of all sides and dimensions of yourself in the space, not just the front of the body?

This is a great way to start a movement exploration, and establish a bigger and more dimensional sense of self and others.

 

October 2, 2015. Tags: , , , , , . Elements of Creative Dance, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Studio Teaching, Teaching Tips, Warm Ups. 1 comment.

Recommended Resource: Creative Dance for All Ages 2nd edition

One of my blog followers asks:
I am trying to do an exercise, movement and dance course and need to prepare a movement sequence featuring air and floor patterns, for an adult class. Are there any resources you can suggest?

I always start by looking in Anne Green Gilbert’s book Creative Dance for All Ages.  It’s organized by concept.  Under ‘pathways’ you can find ideas.

Anne has just released a 2nd edition of the book.  It’s a real step up from the original 1992 publication.  I recommend it. If you don’t already own this book, get it.  If you have the original, get the new one.  She’s included music recommendations using Eric Chappelle’s Contrast and Continuum music and references the BrainDance (what I call ‘The Developmental Movement Pattern Sequence” as found on Brain Bop).

Here’s the link to Creative Dance for All Ages, 2nd edition.

Anyone have other great leads and suggestions?

 

 

June 8, 2015. Tags: , . Favorite Books, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance. 2 comments.

Teaching the Developmental Movement Pattern Sequence (Braindance) through the lens of technique

If you are already doing the Developmental Movement Pattern Sequence found on my CD Brain Bop (also called the “Braindance” developed by Anne Green Gilbert), you might enjoy using these same 8 patterns to develop a technical warm up for your students ages 7 or 8 and up.

I suggest working with one or more colleagues to brainstorm ideas that work for ballet, modern, jazz or hip-hop. Start with one technique only, and develop a progressive warm up that follows the sequence while also teaching elements and principles of the technique.

Then, film or otherwise document the different sequences and keep them handy. They can be used on a rotating basis.

In my Creative Dance for Children seminar, college students divided into groups and created. I videoed and posted, so that whoever was lead-teaching had a point of departure.  The warm up was refined and improved upon from one week to the next.

In our ages 8-10 class, we divided our semester into 4 weeks each of modern, ballet and hip hop just for the warm up. The rest of the lesson followed a concept-based approach for technique, improvisation and composition. We did refer back to the  “technique of the week” in the across the floor phrases, layering on new technique ideas as they were introduced through the warm up over the course of the semester.

In preparation for our “Informance” (informal, open class), students decided ahead of time which of the three different warm ups they wanted to share. That became the warm up for the demonstration class, shared with parents and friends.

May 16, 2015. Tags: , , , , . Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Studio Teaching, Teaching Tips, Warm Ups, Working with Kate's Material. Leave a comment.

Thoughts on building a sequential movement vocabulary in the elementary music classroom

Q: I want to be more intentional about developing a movement vocabulary in my elementary music classes. Which one of your publications would be best for providing a sequence and some activities for doing this? I have all of your books. I just need guidance on where to start.

A: My books and music include many activities that align to concepts in music and dance. A concept-based approach to teaching is more effective and enduring than an activity-based approach. Students learn specific concept-related vocabulary. Teachers can layer on new concepts and vocabulary from week to week.
You, the teacher, can also REPEAT ACTIVITIES in different lessons THROUGH THE LENS OF A DIFFERENT CONCEPT.

Here is a suggested 9-week sequence, organized by concept, rationale, activities, age-ranges, and source material included.

Note:
I always start with a warm up, which may be my second lesson, having captured their interest with something exciting on the first day.

I use Brain Bop for warm ups. Sometimes, for K-1, I change it out with the warm ups on AlphaBeat or Everybody Do This from Songs for Dancing. For the most part, though, I favor the brain-based sequence (Anne Green Gilbert’s Braindance) found on Brain Bop.

  1. Concept: Place (Self & General Space)
    Rationale: To recognize and learn where we are in space, leaving room between self and others, moving and stopping, and traveling safely. The first lesson should be fun and exciting.Activity Examples:
    Step On the Beat (K -5) Step on the Beat
    Action Dance (K-3) AlphaBeat – self-space emphasis
    Do Your Own Dance (K-2) Songs for Dancing

     

  2. Direction (Up/down, Right and Left, Forwards and Backwards)
    Rationale: To learn how to describe and respond to all directional movement, whether moving in self or general space.

Activity Examples:
Sodeo (K-1) AlphaBeat
Apples and Oranges (K-5) Step on the Beat
Over the Top (3-5) Step on the Beat

 

  1. Level (High, Middle, Low)
    Rationale: To learn how to describe and respond to relative distance from the floor.

Activity Examples:
Hinging (3-5) Step on the Beat
Little Seed (K-2) AlphaBeat
Little Birdies (K) Songs for Dancing

 

  1. Spatial Relationships (Over, Under, Near, Far, Between, Around…..)
    Rationale: To understand our relationship to space, self and others in order to move with more skill and awareness. This also builds the vocabulary of preposition words and teaches positive and negative space.

Activity Examples:
Shape Maker/Shape Explorer (2-5) Step on the Beat
Travelers and the Magic Forest (1-2) AlphaBeat
Stick Together Game (K-5) Step on the Beat

 

  1. Expressive Qualities (Energy, Flow, Force, Weight)
    Rationale: To recognize the difference between smooth, sharp, shaky and swinging movement and explore creative ways of changing between these energies as students move in place and through space.

Activity Examples:
Popcorn and Melted Butter (K-2) Songs for Dancing
Imaginary Journey (K-2) AlphaBeat
Action Dance (K-2) AlphaBeat
Show Your Feelings (K-2) AlphaBeat
Near and Far (K-2) AlphaBeat

 

  1. Rhythm & Speed
    Rationale: To make the connection between the music and dance elements of tempo, pulse and pattern

    Activity Examples:
    Trip to the Zoo (Speed) (K-2) Songs for Dancing
    Flea Song (K) Songs for Dancing
    Everybody Do This (K-2) Songs for Dancing
    Apples and Oranges (K-5) Step on the Beat
    Here We Go Round and Round (K-2) Songs for Dancing
    Walking Song (K-2) Songs for Dancing

 

  1. Parts of the Body
    Rationale: To learn body parts vocabulary and explore creative ways of using parts of the body when moving, making shapes and working with others.

Activity Examples:
Hinging (3-5) Step on the Beat
Stick Together Game (K-5) Step on the Beat
Body Shape Jam (K-3) AlphaBeat
Here We Go Round and Round (K-2) Songs for Dancing
Flea Song (K) Songs for Dancing

 

  1. Pathways Floor and Air
    Rationale: To learn that we make patterns on the floor as we travel, and patterns in the air with different body parts, using different levels, directions, and spatial relationships.
     

     

    Activity Examples:
    Step On the Beat (K -5) Step on the Beat
    Down by the Station (K) Songs for Dancing
    Over the Top (3-5) Step on the Beat

 

  1. Shapes: Straight, Curved, Twisted, Angular, Symmetrical and Asymmetrical
    Rationale: To learn shape vocabulary and explore creative ways for use shapes when moving and working with others. Dances begin and end in a shape.

Activity Examples:
Shape Song (K-1) Songs for Dancing
Trees (K-2) AlphaBeat, followed by…
Travelers and the Magic Forest (K-2) AlphaBeat
Stick Together Game (K-5) Step on the Beat
Do Your Own Dance (K-2) Songs for Dancing
Over the Top (3-5) Step on the Beat

 

  1. Locomotor Movement
    Rationale: To learn and recognize the eight basic locomotor movements, individually and in movement sequences.

Activity Examples:
Locomotor Movement (K-5) AlphaBeat
Galloping Song (K) Songs for Dancing
Skipping Song (K-2) Songs for Dancing
Walking Song (K-2) Songs for Dancing

 

 

Other educators share their thoughts: 

Here’s what dance educator Betty A. from Urbana, IL says about her six-week creative dance unit organization:
“I use a variety of resources. But, my top choices would be the Anne Green Gilbert book (Creative Dance for All Ages)* and your resources. Any time someone asks for creative dance resources that is my standard answer. I do concept-based teaching. My focus is creative dance (dance elements -BEST – Body, energy, space, time). I try to teach one dance to all classes to discuss choreography. It might be a folk dance or a dance that we create together. 3rd through 5th grade always has a group choreography project using the concepts we have learned / explored. Of course, I try to cover all of the State Learning Standards, but often cannot get to all of them in 6 weeks.

 

*Kate adds: Anne Green Gilbert created a later publication called Brain-Compatible Dance Education. This book is organized by lesson plan component rather than concept, and included both many Braindance variations (like the material on my Brain Bop CD) AND references to Eric Chappelle’s companion music called Contrast and Continuum, Volumes I – IV. I use both books.

 

Here’s what dance educator Cissy W. from Lafayette, LA says about using my material in her units:

When I started trying to analyze how & when I use your CD’s at my various levels (K-5) and realized it was a very complex thing. I am not absolutely consistent with what I use first. Usually the Welcome Song followed by the Flea Song is a good start with my younger classes. I used to start with the Train Song, but now introduce that later in my sequence when we are studying pathways and sometimes even have 2 or 3 short trains going at once!  If I think they need to calm down and focus, I do the first section of the Brain Dance warm up from Brain Bop. Lately, I have been using the Galloping Song to transition from their table seats to their Poly spots on the dance floor. I use the Action Dance from AlphaBeat to review locomotors and break the ice with my new 3rd graders at the beginning of each 9 weeks. Other things are seasonal: The Haunted House in October, The More We Are Together for Valentine’s Day.

How do YOU organize YOUR dance unit?

January 23, 2015. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Creative Dance Lesson Plans, Elements of Creative Dance, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Lesson Plan Organization, Teaching Tips, Working with Kate's Material. 1 comment.

Teaching Tips for Everyone

I just completed another semester of teaching Creative Dance for Children.
As I observed the college students practice-teach in our lab program, these tips came up repeatedly.

Note: Our classes follow the lesson plan format established by Anne Green Gilbert in her two seminal works: Creative Dance for All Ages and Brain-Compatible Dance Education.  If you do not already own these two volumes…run, don’t walk… and get them.

Tips for teaching 4 and 5 year olds

1) Free Play before Class

If behavior is inappropriate…..Don’t just stand there and watch. Provide a fascinating alternative instead, preferably related to the concept(s) of the day.
This is relevant if children come into the room and start running, or hitting each other with the prop of the day (scarves, noodles, etc.)

Use a sound source,  instead of your voice, to transition from free play to the warm up.  Teach it on the first day of class. A drum can be very effective. Or play a melody on a pitched instrument, such as a recorder (flute), that says “time to clean up and join the circle.”

To speed up (and make joyful) the transition for gathering in a circle,  sing to gather the children.   The novelty attracts their attention and gets them moving quicker.
Example: Pick a familiar melody such as “London Bridge” and make up words: “Join me in the circle now, my dear dancers.

DROP HANDS BEFORE you open out a circle, to prevent pulling.

 

Warm Up

Pitch your singing voice high, since the children have high voices.

When a child is off-task but not distracting from the group or hurting herself or others, it’s okay to leave her/him alone, and invite her/him in to participate periodically.

If you are sitting near a child who doesn’t get a movement pattern, you can manipulate their limbs so they get the pattern, or ask an assisting teacher to do so.

Introducing the Concept

Color-code the different concept words on the board so you can refer to them by color for your non-readers.
Use color to suggest meaning, such as green for “go” and red for “stop.”

Clap the syllables of words and say them at the same time to help children to ‘chunk’ the information and understand it better. Always have children say the new vocabulary/concept.

Give a brief explanation of new vocabulary any time you introduce it.
Examples: Gestures are everyday movements we do to communicate. Locomotor movement goes from one place to another.

Note: when facing children you have to reverse your OWN right and left.

Developing Skills

When children try to cut in line, teach them to find a place at the end of the line. This is a basic get-along skill required in school, too.

For leaps….when you set up cones or other props to leap over….. check the leap distances to make it challenging.

To signal a ‘freeze’ to a group while they are running, it helps to shake the drum as a ‘warning’ followed by the double-beat ‘freeze’ sound.

It is helpful to play the uneven rhythm of skip, gallop and side slide  on a drum when teaching these locomotor movements.

Resting
The first time you teach constructive alignment, tell the children that you are going to give them 3 adjustments: legs, arms, head. Ask them to ‘pretend they are sleeping’ when you do the adjustments so they’ll be dead weight.

Creating

Designate ‘zones’ when you divide the groups so each group has a nice amount of work space.

When watching different dances:
Ask the audience beforehand to “watch with a purpose.” What will we be looking for?

Closure
During review,  if you aren’t getting anything back, you can always refer back to the board and the color of the word.

Review all activities before asking for favorites at the end of class.

To be quick and inclusive, have everyone show their understanding of the concept at the end (e.g. ‘show me shaky movement’ or ‘show me a curved shape’)  Call on specific kids rather than have them raise hands.

 Tips for teaching older children (ages 6 -10)

Warm Ups

Any time you teach movement that involves dropping the head, children will raise their heads up to watch you. Therefore, model first, have them do it, then embed it in the combination.

Remember, when you are at the barre they ALWAYS have to see you. You must be furthest downstage of their movement. Otherwise, they are looking over their shoulder.

Sometimes a movement is better understood with everyone facing your back to see the mechanics of the movement, rather than in a circle.

Developing skills and moving across the floor

Rhythmic acuity is an important skill to build. If students are rushing the beat, you can stop the group, have them listen to YOU clapping the beat, then have them join again.

When modeling something that faces away, have them watch you first, then have them join you in the face away.

For backwards walking (and all backwards movement) across the floor, you can have first line people touch the backs of all the others as they arrive at the line.

In a jump-hop combo, encourage dancers to alternate the hopping leg.

For safety sake in weight sharing/bearing….teach a wrist connect (holding at wrists rather than hands).

Always give a 4-count pick up at the top of a rhythmic combination, even when first modeling.

What would you give as a refinement when students repeat the combination? As you watch students, note what could be refined. Timing? Skill? Smoothness of transitions?

Creating

If groups are done creating and seem to be aimless, you can say “show me what you’ve got.” You can also do that for groups that get ‘stuck.’ “Show me what you’ve got” helps groups get ‘unstuck.’

Give a time ‘warning’ for wrapping up: “1 more minute.”

 

General Tips for All Ages:
Make sure the volume of the music never overwhelms your voice.

Make sure students don’t always group together the same. Give them frequent opportunities to learn how to work with others.

Note how hard it is for the children to integrate when they come late! Have a welcoming strategy for that (e.g. pair your assistant with that child to help them transition)

When students come into class wearing distracting clothing  (mask, feather boa, crazy shirt, scarf) try right at the start of class to see if you can get rid of it. (Could be a class rule).  But do it in a fun way.  Usually, when a student is bothered by the garment, you can see an opening and ask them to leave it by the door to pick up on the way out.

Demand that children give you their concentration and call on the off-task ones to get their attention during all instruction-giving.

During reflection – if younger students are getting stuck, time is short, or the concept is challenging – give choices to select from among.
Examples: Which movement was smooth: punching or swaying? Which was the low level movement: crawling, leaping or walking?

 

 

December 17, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , . Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Studio Teaching, Teaching Tips. 1 comment.

Informance versus Recital

With our Fall semester closure coming up on Saturday, we’ve been talking about the difference between an informance and a recital (based on Anne Green Gilbert’s description in her book Creative Dance for All Ages (pp. 53 -55).  Here’s what my college students observed:

Why choose an informance over a recital?

1) An informance allows all the students to always be participating and to learn and watch each other. It is also a way to share information and all that the children have learned throughout the semester to the parents and guests attending. It is a chance to educate the community about the program and the benefits of creative dance. At a recital there is a lot of down time and emphasis on the performance instead of constant engagement and learning together.

2) In an informance we are able to explain concepts and interact with parents. They are able to see and experience the learning process as it occurs in the classroom versus just watching as in a recital. It is at this time that we are also able to explain the value of and benefits of creative dance.

3) An informance allows for the children to show and tell and their family can take part in the activities as well. A recital is all show and it is easy for the children to get nervous and shy. So the informance adds more value to the performance and everyone can experience what each other has learned.

4) An informance is much less pressure on the kids, allowing them to show what they’ve learned in a supportive and welcoming atmosphere. Informances are also more productive than recitals for the kids because the learning involved for a recital is very static (kids perfect the teacher’s choreography for many weeks), whereas when preparing for an informance, kids explore all dance concepts, practice movement combinations, collaborate with others, and create dances themselves. This is a much more enriching process.

5) With a recital you’re pushed to spend your class time “rehearsing” to prepare for it. Where as in an informance you’re still having the students explore even as they’re showing off to the audience. This way you’re sharing your progress and development with the viewer, instead of having them dress up and show off something that was laid out for them.

6)  I love the duality of an informance: informational and informal. What a great way to capture two aspects of this class and it’s purpose! Choosing an informance makes sense because it’s really showcasing the active involvement of the creative process. It isn’t just performing, it’s allowing for understanding and processing of why the dancers are doing what they are doing, and why the teachers are assigning the ‘assignments’ they assign. It allows for an opportunity to explain the benefits of creative dance and provides an opportunity to educate not only your students, but the community as well.

November 17, 2011. Tags: , , , , . Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Recitals. Leave a comment.